Jin Yong

Jin Yong (金庸), is the pen name of author Louis Cha. Louis Cha Leung-yung (查良鏞; 6 February 1924 – 30 October 2018) He was a Chinese wuxia novelist and essayist who co-founded the Hong Kong daily newspaper Ming Pao in 1959 and served as its first editor-in-chief.

His wuxia novels have a widespread following in Chinese communities worldwide. His fifteen works written between 1955 and 1972 earned him a reputation as one of the greatest and most popular wuxia writers ever. By the time of his death he was the best-selling Chinese author, and over 100 million copies of his works have been sold worldwide (not including an unknown number of pirated copies). According to The Oxford Guide to Contemporary World Literature, Jin Yong’s novels are considered to be of very high quality and are able to appeal to both highbrow and lowbrow tastes. His works have the unusual ability to transcend geographical and ideological barriers separating Chinese communities of the world, achieving a greater success than any other contemporary Hong Kong writer.

His works have been translated into many languages including English, French, Korean, Japanese, Vietnamese, Thai, Burmese, Malay and Indonesian. He has many fans outside of Chinese-speaking areas, as a result of the numerous adaptations of his works into films, television series, comics and video games.

The asteroid 10930 Jinyong (1998 CR2) is named after him.

Jin Yong is named along with Gu Long and Liang Yusheng as “The Three Pillars of the Wuxia”.

Career

Cha was a journalist. When Cha was transferred to New Evening Post (of British Hong Kong) as Deputy Editor, he met Chen Wentong, who wrote his first wuxia novel under the pseudonym “Liang Yusheng” in 1953. Chen and Cha became good friends and it was under the former’s influence that Cha began work on his first serialised martial arts novel, The Book and the Sword, in 1955. In 1957, while still working on wuxia serialisations, he quit his previous job and worked as a scenarist-director and scriptwriter at Great Wall Movie Enterprises Ltd and Phoenix Film Company.

In 1959, Cha co-founded the Hong Kong newspaper Ming Pao with his high school classmate Shen Baoxin (沈寶新). Cha served as its editor-in-chief for years, writing both serialised novels and editorials, amounting to some 10,000 Chinese characters per day. His novels also earned him a large readership. Cha completed his last wuxia novel in 1972, after which he officially retired from writing novels, and spent the remaining years of that decade editing and revising his literary works instead. The first complete definitive edition of his works appeared in 1979. In 1980, Cha wrote a postscript to Wu Gongzao’s taiji classic Wu Jia Taijiquan, where he described influences from as far back as Laozi and Zhuangzi on contemporary Chinese martial arts.

By then, Cha’s wuxia novels had gained great popularity in Chinese-speaking areas. All of his novels have since been adapted into films, TV shows and radio dramas in Hong Kong, Taiwan and China. The important characters in his novels are so well known to the public that they can be alluded to with ease between all three regions.

Honours

In addition to his wuxia novels, Cha also wrote many non-fiction works on Chinese history. For his achievements, he received many honours.

Cha was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) by the British government in 1981. He was made a Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur (1992) and a Commandeur de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (2004) by the French government.

Cha was also an honorary professor at Peking University, Zhejiang University, Nankai University, Soochow University, Huaqiao University, National Tsing Hua University, Hong Kong University (Department of Chinese Studies), the University of British Columbia, and Sichuan University. Cha was an honorary doctor at National Chengchi University, Hong Kong University (Department of Social Science), Hong Kong Polytechnic University, the Open University of Hong Kong, the University of British Columbia, Soka University and the University of Cambridge. He was also an honorary fellow of St Antony’s College, Oxford and Robinson College, Cambridge, and a Waynflete Fellow of Magdalen College, Oxford.

When receiving his honorary doctorate at the University of Cambridge in 2004, Cha expressed his wish to be a full-time student at Cambridge for four years to attain a non-honorary doctorate. In July 2010, Cha earned his Doctor of Philosophy in oriental studies (Chinese history) at St John’s College, Cambridge with a thesis on imperial succession in the early Tang dynasty.

Themes

Chinese nationalism or patriotism is a strong theme in Cha’s works. In most of his works, Cha places emphasis on the idea of self-determination and identity, and many of his novels are set in time periods when China was occupied or under the threat of occupation by non-Han Chinese peoples such as the Khitans, Jurchens, Mongols and Manchus. However, Cha gradually evolved his Chinese nationalism into an inclusionist concept which encompasses all present-day non-Han Chinese minorities. Cha expresses a fierce admiration for positive traits of non-Han Chinese people personally, such as the Mongols and Manchus. In The Legend of the Condor Heroes, for example, he casts Genghis Khan and his sons as capable and intelligent military leaders against the corrupt and ineffective bureaucrats of the Han Chinese-led Song dynasty.

Cha’s references range from traditional Chinese medicine, acupuncture, martial arts, music, calligraphy, weiqi, tea culture, philosophical schools of thought such as Confucianism, Buddhism and Taoism and imperial Chinese history. Historical figures often intermingle with fictional ones, making it difficult for the layperson to distinguish which are real.

His works show a great amount of respect and approval for traditional Chinese values, especially Confucian ideals such as the proper relationship between ruler and subject, parent and child, elder sibling and younger sibling, and (particularly strongly, due to the wuxia nature of his novels), between master and apprentice, and among fellow apprentices. However, he also questions the validity of these values in the face of a modern society, such as ostracism experienced by his two main characters – Yang Guo’s romantic relationship with his teacher Xiaolongnü in The Return of the Condor Heroes. Cha also places a great amount of emphasis on traditional values such as face and honour.

In all but his 14th work, The Deer and the Cauldron, the protagonists or heroes are explored meticulously through their relationships with their teachers, their immediate kin and relatives, and with their suitors or spouses. In each, the heroes have attained the zenith in martial arts and most would be the epitome or embodiment of the traditional Chinese values in words or deeds, i.e. virtuous, honourable, respectable, gentlemanly, responsible, patriotic, and so forth.

In The Deer and the Cauldron, Cha departed from his usual writing style, creating in its main protagonist Wei Xiaobao an antihero who is greedy, lazy, and utterly disdainful of traditional rules of propriety. Cha intentionally created an anticlimax and an antihero possessing none of the desirable traditional values and no knowledge of any form of martial arts, and dependent upon a protective vest made of alloy to absorb full-frontal attack when in trouble and a dagger that can cut through anything. Wei is a street urchin and womanising weasel, with no admirable qualities whatsoever. The fiction writer Ni Kuang wrote a connected critique of all of Cha’s works and concluded that Cha concluded his work with The Deer and the Cauldron as a satire to his earlier work and to restore a balanced perspective in readers.

Works

See also: Jin Yong novels

1. The Book and the Sword (書劍恩仇錄) (1955–56)
2. Sword Stained with Royal Blood (碧血劍) (1956)
3. The Legend of the Condor Heroes (射鵰英雄傳) (1957–59)
4. Fox Volant of the Snowy Mountain (雪山飛狐) (1959)
5. The Return of the Condor Heroes (神鵰俠侶) (1959–61)
6. Other Tales of the Flying Fox (飛狐外傳) (1960–61)
7. White Horse Neighing in the Wind (白馬嘯西風) (1961)
8. Blade-dance of the Two Lovers (鴛鴦刀) (1961)
9. Heaven Sword and Dragon Sabre (倚天屠龍記) (1961–63)
10. A Deadly Secret (連城訣) (1963)
11. Demi-Gods and Semi-Devils (天龍八部) (1963–66)
12. Ode to Gallantry (俠客行) (1966–67)
13. The Smiling Proud Wanderer (笑傲江湖) (1967–69)
14. The Deer and the Cauldron (鹿鼎記) (1969–-72)
15. Sword of the Yue Maiden (越女劍) (1970)